The world is changed. I feel it in the water. I feel it in the earth. I smell it in the air.
These words of Lady Galadriel spoken at the beginning of the Lord of the Rings film, express very well how the world church and its mission have changed.


In September of this year the World Evangelical Alliance, Missions Commission heldMany different globes a consultation in Panama as a celebration of 100 years since the 1916 conference in the same city. At the 2016 conference, former All Nations student, David Ruiz became the new Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance Missions Commission . The journey from Panama 1916 to 2016 is an interesting one which illustrates the massive changes that have happened in mission these 100 years. The world is changed.

The Panama conference (1916) originated as a reaction to the Edinburgh World Mission Conference (1910), as mission organisations who worked in Latin America were not invited.

The Edinburgh organisers considered Latin America to already be evangelised by the Roman Catholic Church. The Panama organisers disagreed, and as a result various North American and European mission societies formed The Committee on Cooperation in Latin America (CCLA in 1913) to discuss mission to Latin America. In 1916 it was calculated that 1% of the population of Latin America was Protestant, in 2014 the figure was nearly 20% (Pew Research). The world is changed.

The Panama (1916) conference was really a meeting of non-Latin, Western Missionary Societies and was dominated by missionaries talking about mission to Latin America. Subsequently there were various other conferences which took place in Montevideo (1925) and Cuba (1929) which led to a Latinisation of Protestantism. By a conference held by the same group in Lima (1961), this latinisation was complete. The church world is changed.

Since the early 1960s the Latin American Protestant church has continued to develop and has had massive influence not only in its own society but also on world mission, sending its own missionaries to other places in the world. The Ibero-american Cooperation on Mission (COMIBAM) is a network of sending Churches, training centres and mission agencies. David Ruiz was president of COMIBAM. These mission conference now speak of mission in Latin America or mission from Latin America. The world is changed.

Additionally the Latin American Church has had influence in the theological world. The Roman Catholic and ecumenical churches influenced the development of Liberation Theology and the evangelical church on the Lausanne movement and its development of Integral Mission. Perhaps the Latin American church does not need the same number of missionaries as before and maybe not the same kind of missionaries as before?

So, returning to Panama (2016) and The World Evangelical Alliance Mission Commission now has a Guatemalan Executive Director. “The world is changed.” Is the Western Mission Movement ready for this changed world? What do you think? Please share your comments below. Eddie Arthur has blogged extensively on this subject. Check his blog out at


At All Nations we are committed to forming women and men to serve, cooperating in God’s worldwide mission in God’s worldwide church. You can find out more about our training and courses by taking a further look at the All Nations website or by visiting our pages on Facebook and Twitter @allnationsuk.

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